SEN. THUNE: Biden’s Border Crisis Turns Into Full-Blown Catastrophe

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U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) spoke on the Senate floor Thursday about the Biden administration’s decision to end the use of pandemic-era Title 42 authorities without any meaningful replacement. Thune noted that President Biden has the authority to address the crisis at the southern border, but he has simply chosen not to act. Title 42 has played an essential role in preventing the crisis at the border from becoming a full-blown catastrophe, and once it is lifted, the administration is expecting up to 13,000 illegal crossings per day – nearly doubling the recent average.

Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):

“Mr. President, at a press conference on Tuesday, President Biden was asked if the United States was ready for the surge of people expected to come across the border after Title 42 COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. 

“His answer?

“‘It’s going to be chaotic for a while.’

“‘It’s going to be chaotic for a while.’

“That, unfortunately, could describe the situation at the border during his entire presidency.

“The Biden administration has been defined by chaos at the border for two long years and counting.

“Two years of record-breaking numbers of individuals attempting to cross our southern border illegally.

“More than 5 million attempted illegal crossings in total – an average of 6,300-some individuals per day.

“6,300 individuals.

“Per day.

“To put that number in perspective, during the last administration the average number of illegal crossings per day was approximately 1,800.

“And all of these numbers just refer to individuals who were actually apprehended.

“There have been well over a million known ‘gotaways’ during the Biden administration – individuals the Border Patrol saw but was unable to apprehend.

“In fact, one in five border crossers is a gotaway – meaning that huge numbers of people are entering our country illegally without our knowing who they are or what their purpose is in coming here.

“The fact that we’ve seen 80 individuals on the terrorist watchlist attempt to enter our country illegally via our southern border since October is a powerful reminder that not everyone trying to enter our country illegally is simply looking for a better life.

“And it is profoundly troubling that so many unknown individuals are evading the Border Patrol and making their way into our country.

“It’s a problem that has been compounded as scores of Border Patrol agents have been pulled off the front lines to provide humanitarian assistance.

“So we’ve had two years of chaos at our southern border, Mr. President.

“Two years of chaos that have exacted a tremendous cost.

“Our border communities are overwhelmed.

“Our Border Patrol agents are overwhelmed.

“And the chaos at our border is unquestionably facilitating illegal cross-border activity, including the smuggling of deadly drugs like fentanyl into our country.

“Mr. President, we didn’t get here by accident.

“President Biden hasn’t just happened to preside over a record-breaking influx of illegal immigration at the southern border.

“The chaos we’ve been experiencing is a direct result of the president’s policies.

“From his campaign on, President Biden was focused on distancing himself from the immigration policies of his predecessor – and satisfying the open-borders caucus that makes up a huge part of today’s Democrat Party.

“On his very first day in office, President Biden rescinded the declaration of a national emergency at our southern border.

“He halted construction of the border wall.

“He revoked a Trump administration order that called for the government to faithfully execute our immigration laws.

“And his Department of Homeland Security issued guidelines pausing deportations except under certain conditions.

“All on his first day.

“Needless to say, the effect of all this was to declare to the world that the United States’ borders were effectively open.

“And the president’s policies since that day have done little to correct that impression.

“Which brings us to today.

“Today, Mr. President, the Biden administration is ending the use of pandemic-era Title 42 authorities, which have enabled U.S. Customs and Border Protection to quickly turn back at least some illegal immigrants at the border. 

“Title 42 has played an essential role in preventing the crisis at our border from becoming a full-blown catastrophe.

“And with its end, the flood of illegal immigrants across our border is expected to become a torrent.

“I mentioned that during the Biden administration we’ve seen an average of 6,300 migrants a day attempting to illegally cross our southern border.

“Well, the administration is expecting that number to possibly double once Title 42 is lifted, to as many as 13,000 illegal crossings per day.


“Per day.

“If border communities and the Border Patrol were overwhelmed before, it’s difficult to even conceive how difficult things will be for them now.

“The Biden administration is busy putting eleventh-hour policy changes in place in an attempt to stem the expected surge.

“But how much of it will be too-little, too-late remains to be seen.

“The president’s prediction that things at the border will be chaotic for a while does not exactly inspire confidence that the administration is on top of this situation.

“Nor did the NBC article yesterday morning noting that the Biden administration is preparing to release some migrants into the U.S. with, quote, ‘no way to track them’ as a way to deal with overcrowding at the border. 

“‘We’re already breaking and we haven’t hit the starting line,’ the article quotes a Department of Homeland Security official as saying.

“‘We’re already breaking and we haven’t hit the starting line.’

“So as I said, Mr. President, the Biden administration is not exactly inspiring confidence.

“Especially since the president continues to reject commonsense measures that could actually help keep numbers down, like reinstating Migrant Protection Protocols, often referred to as Remain in Mexico, which would require illegal immigrants to stay in Mexico while their asylum cases are adjudicated.

“Mr. President, we’ve already seen an early surge in anticipation of Title 42 ending, with the Border Patrol apprehending more than 11,000 individuals at our southern border on Tuesday. 

“And I am deeply concerned about the border communities and Border Patrol agents who will have to deal with what the lifting of Title 42 brings.

“And not just about border communities.

“Because while border communities have to deal with the greatest immediate challenges, the consequences of unchecked illegal immigration at our southern border are felt all over the country.

“New York City has seen a flood of illegal immigrants as a result of President Biden’s border crisis, and New York City mayor Eric Adams recently stated that his city is, quote, “being destroyed by the migrant crisis.”

“It seems that the Biden border crisis is even too much for the sanctuary cities that helped stoke it.

“Our current fentanyl crisis is also a good reminder that illegal activity at our southern border affects every state in the union.

“I’ve talked to sheriffs in South Dakota – about as far from our southern border as you can get – who are dealing with fentanyl that has been trafficked across the border from Mexico.

“And as I said earlier, that trafficking is undoubtedly being facilitated by the chaos at our southern border.

“Mr. President, this has been a grim speech.

“But it’s a grim situation.

“It’s been two years of crisis at the southern border under the Biden administration.

“And we’re well on our way to catastrophe.

“President Biden has the power to do something about this.

“But after two years of ineffective – or simply absent – leadership from the president, my hopes that he will take the steps necessary to secure our border aren’t high.

“We’ll see what the coming days will bring.

“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”


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